The March meeting of the NJT Board (actually a phone conference, the practice for the 2 years since the COVID-19 virus struck) was dominated by the historic votes to deny Academy Express, LLC, 2 contracts to operate bus routes in Hudson County, and to award them to Coach USA. Even the week-long service disruption on the Morris & Essex and Gladstone lines was not emphasized, perhaps because of the announcement that the trains would run again the next day.
There was an unexpected topic addressed by high-profile speakers during the public comment period: running trains on some restored track on the Lackawanna Cutoff.
Continue Reading Lackawanna Cutoff Mentioned at March Board Meeting, but the Reason Was Not Revealed
Service was suspended on most of the Morris & Essex (M&E) Line, along with the Gladstone Branch, for an entire week, beginning on Monday evening, March 7. A strong storm blew a large tree onto the elevated M&E right-of-way near Jefferson Avenue in Maplewood, between the Maplewood and South Orange stations. It pulled down the overhead wires (“catenary”) that power the trains running on the line and damaged the wires’ supporting structure. On Tuesday, nothing ran anywhere on either the M&E or the Gladstone Branch. By Wednesday, hourly service (different from and slower than normal) had been established between South Orange and New York Penn Station. However, there was no service at all—not even limited diesel service—past South Orange.
Continue Reading Falling Tree Pulls Wire Down—
No Service on M&E Lines for Seven Days
The vote by the NJ Transit Board to reject the pro-posed contracts that would have given Academy Express, LLC, the right to operate several bus lines in Hudson County for the next 3 years was historic, and it represented a radical departure from the past 42 years of Board practice.
The decision to reject the 2 contracts to Academy as an operator and instead award the contracts to Coach USA marked the first time that the NJ Transit board had voted against an agenda item of major significance in the agency’s history, dating back to 1979. It also marked the first time that such a negative vote was unanimous, although approvals almost always are.
Continue Reading NJT Board’s ‘No’ Vote on the Proposed Contracts
with Academy Is a Huge Break from Tradition
We are pleased to note that the April board meeting will be held live on Wednesday morning, April 13th, at 9 a.m., at NJ Transit headquarters in Newark—for the first time in more than 2 years. Since March 2020, all meetings have been by phone—and without even live-streamed presentations of the A number of people requested that the call-in option be maintained. Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti stated that in fact the call-in option will be continued, as it has proven quite popular, opening up participation to many who found travel difficult for various reasons. We hope that members of the public who make the effort to attend in person will have their full 5 minutes to be heard. In any case, it will be good to chat in person and to once again have the new board room used to its full capacity, presentations and all!
When in-person board meetings resume in April, there will be a full 13 members present (or at least 10: 3 individuals are nominated, not directly appointed, and need Senate confirmation). Missing from the dais will be current board member James Adams, who was not reappointed. The reason given is the end of his term (Dec. 31, 2020), but we are skeptical. Flora Castillo voted No twice in 2016, and she was not renewed. At the time we wondered if her Nos were a factor—Mr. Adams’ removal after multiple No votes seems to indicate that, indeed, dissent is not tolerated.
Continue Reading April Brings a Full NJ Transit Board:
James Adams Cancelled